Film And Movies

What Went Wrong With… Home Sweet Home Alone (2021)?

Home Sweet Home Alone poster with tagline No Charisma No Problem

John Hughes’ original Home Alone is an undisputed holiday classic and Hughes’ sequel Home Alone 2: Lost In New York is watchable but unneeded (although it’s always great to see Tim Curry on screen). Hughes then penned the awful follow-up Home Alone 3 but it’s clear that once star Macaulay Culkin left, the franchise went from bad to worse, with both Home Alone 4: Taking Back The House and Home Alone: The Holiday Heist being utterly atrocious. Now we have a reboot-slash-sequel titled “Home Sweet Home Alone”, a by-the-numbers recreation of the original film made with absolutely no flair or talent (or money by the looks of things). At the heart of the 6th Home Alone movie, we have a trio of mediocre actors; Aisling Bea, a dull comedian and actor, Rob Delaney, a really dull comedian and a really dull actor, and Archie Yates, a dull actor who may grow up to become a dull comedian. Whilst on this topic, a child actor either has to have talent (Haley Joel Osment) or be endearing (Macaulay Culkin). Home Alone 3‘s Alex D. Linz was no replacement for Culkin, in fact the difference was obvious, like Shirley Temple being replaced by a sack of rubble. Home Sweet Home Alone‘s Archie Yates, fresh from overrated Jojo Rabbit, is neither. Yates comes across, not as a cute kid, but an out-of-work accountant who’s been shrunk or a miniature civil servant who exposes himself to clients. And I thought Home Alone 4‘s Mike Weinberg was irritating to look at.

Everything about this remake is bad, if not horrendous. Like many sequels, it’s essentially an inferior version of the first film. Scenes such as getting a large family into two vehicles ready for the airport, our protagonist over-eating junk food and watching TV after his parents have disappeared, and planning his home-defence blueprint are less of a nod to the original and more of a banging of one’s head against a brick wall. Lines such as “Have you guys given up yet, or are you thirsty for more?” and “I’m gonna give you to the count of ten to get your ugly, yella, no-good keister [off my property]” make an appearance which all add to the failed pastiche aesthetic.

The plot is also a mess. On paper, everything that made the first movie special is present; a kid “home alone” with burglars trying to break into his house, plus the importance of family, especially during Christmas, but this time around it doesn’t feel like the writer’s opinions but rather a tick-box exercise in copying an old screenplay.

Speaking of old, this is one of those “I’m not out-of-touch, look at all the ‘modern’ things I’ve mentioned” scripts. Shite like a smart speaker and a VR Headset are plot-points, and “the cloud”, “streaming”, and “lit” are uttered multiple times, but back in 1990, John Hughes never mentioned “Super VHS”, “floppy discs”, and “rad” and that’s why his version is timeless. And that’s the main issue: the writing is nowhere near the level of the original and writers Mikey Day and Streeter Seidell are no replacements for Hughes. I know John wrote the 3rd movie but this is closer to the 4th and 5th, especially with the central premise of retrieving a collectable doll which is closer to Home Alone 5‘s thieves taking a painting from an unoccupied property than the original Wet Bandits’ dastardly plan.

The only update here is the “baddies” being jobless and having money problems but sympathy doesn’t create antagonists that warrant the infliction of injuries, in fact this sanitising does a disservice to the dynamic and mood of the whole movie. Bad or good, Ellie Kemper and Rob Delaney are no Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern. In addition to Kemper and Delaney, all the nobodies from SNL (Pete Holmes, Mikey Day, and Chris Parnell) are in this film, and like that one-time classic TV show they’re now effing-up this classic movie. The entire cast give a kid’s TV show or sketch-show performance; not at all believable, and over-the-top, and the main issue as I’ve already said, is that Archie Yates’ Max Mercer is no Kevin McCallister. Archie looks like Jonathan Lipnicki and Norman Chaney went through the telepods in The Fly. He is not appealing or likeable in any way and cannot carry a comedy film alone (whether at home or not).

Director Dan Mazar who directed Dirty Grandpa and co-wrote Ali G Indahouse (what a résumé) has no skill at making the audience laugh. The scene in which Kemper and Delaney help each other climb a wall and then fart is an example of his flat camera movement and inadequate direction. Slapstick is of course inherently funny but not with Mazar at the helm (watch any of the breaking-and-entering and booby-trap scenes for proof). With a light-hearted score that sounds like someone searched “comedy” in a royalty-free music library, even the Christmas muzak and background noises evoke Hallmark rather than Twentieth Century Studios.

Home Sweet Home Alone has been promoted as a reboot but it’s not. The character “Buzz McCallister” from Home Alone appears as a cop and the McCallister name appears on a home security logo. Buzz even recollects his childhood experience of leaving his brother “home alone”. Of course this time around, it’s the Mercers not the McCallisters and it’s Tokyo not Paris, but none of that matters. What matters is that this so-called “Disney Original” isn’t original at all. This is a substandard re-creation made solely for profit by a greedy corporation. The story may have a Jingle All The Way-esque “give the doll to the needy” finale but this has nothing to do with morality and principles and everything to do with money-making.

At one point in the film, a character played by Timothy Simons says “This is garbage! I don’t know why they’re always trying to remake the classics. [They’re] never as good as the originals.”. If the writers know this, then why do it? The poster’s tagline reads “Holiday Classics Were Meant To Be Broken” and these hacks have done just that. Thanks everyone at Disney+ for ruining Christmas 2021 more than forced Covid vaccinations and NHS lay-offs.

The director of the original Home Alone, Chris Columbus, recently asked what the point of this (and other remakes) was, and I concur. 1990’s Home Alone is a classic and it’s available for everyone to watch – the original film reel didn’t get destroyed in a fire and the digital file didn’t get wiped from Disney’s servers – so why bother remaking a flawless Christmas movie other than to increase Disney Plus’ catalogue in order to justify their monthly subscription cost? That’s the real “Holiday Heist”.

Leave Home Alone The Fuck Alone.

Writing: 1/10

Directing: 1/10

Acting: 1/10

Overall: 1/10

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